The Hobbit; Quentin Blake exhibition; pantomime dames

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Sarfraz Manzoor and his guests, writers Aminatta Forna and David Benedict and actor Kerry Shale, review the week's cultural highlights.

The latest Peter Jackson film is the first in a three part adaptation of JRR Tolkien's The Hobbit. Set in Middle Earth 60 years before "The Lord of the Rings", the story follows Bilbo Baggins (Martin Friedman) as he sets out on an epic quest to reclaim stolen dwarf treasure from the dragon Smaug. On the way he clashes swords with Goblins and Orcs, deadly Wargs, Shapeshifters and Sorcerers not to mentioned Gollum.

There's a new exhibition of drawings and prints by renowned artist and illustrator Quentin Blake, who turns eighty this month. None of the work on display here will have been seen before, and none are illustrations of books, but are entirely derived from the artist's imagination and observations.

The play In the Republic of Happiness, by Martin Crimp, is a violent satire on contemporary obsessions that follows the unexpected return of a long-lost uncle one family Christmas. This event provides an opportunity to explore the dark underside of the contemporary demand for happiness.

Flight Behaviour, the new novel by Orange Prize winner Barbara Kingsolver, tells the story of a woman attempting to escape her empty marriage and the drudgery of life on a rundown Appalachian farm. En route to a tryst with a lover, Dellarobia Turnbow stumbles on a hillside covered with swathes of orange monarch butterflies that appear like fire on the landscape, an event that will transform her life.

In a BBC documentary Michael Grade explores the rich history of the very British Pantomime Dame. From the extravagant productions in Drury Lane in the 19th Century to the vintage performances by Terry Scott and Arthur Askey, the Pantomime Dame has always been anarchic, witty, vulgar, affectionate and good box office.

Producer: Anne-Marie Cole.

Available now

45 minutes

Last on

Sat 15 Dec 2012 19:15

Quentin Blake: New Etchings Lithographs and Drawings

Quentin Blake: New Etchings Lithographs and Drawings continues at Marlborough Fine Art in London until 19th January 2013.

Quentin Blake: New Etchings Lithographs and Drawings

Image Above: Quentin Blake - from the Old and young series, 2012, pen ink and watercolour. Courtesy of the artist.

In the Republic of Happiness

In the Republic of Happiness continues at the Royal Court Theatre in London until 19th February 2013.

In the Republic of Happiness

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is in cinemas nationwide, certificate 12A.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Flight Behaviour

Flight Behaviour by Barbara Kingsolver is published by Bloomsbury.

Flight Behaviour

There's Nothing Like a Dame

There's Nothing Like a Dame: A History of the Pantomime Dame is on BBC4 on Thursday 20th December at 9.00pm.

There's Nothing Like a Dame

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